Monday, March 30, 2015

New post, a bit behind schedule.

I had a big star in my notes this week next to something that was said in class this week.  I'm not sure if I wrote it down exactly as it was said, but it was something like, "We need to shove this stuff down kindergartners' throats."  I had a big star next to it because I agree, and I liked the line.

Now my question / curiosity is how does one accomplish such a task for a group of individuals who are so young?  Beyond some of the obvious changes, like getting rid of the short buses, or having working lifts on all school buses, is there another way to actually teach about ableism?  Or is this really something that needs to be done subtly when it comes to younger children?

I recall some discussion about inclusive education where we discussed some of the benefits and downsides to the approach.  I was thinking about this because other than using this approach to create an environment where everyone has access to the same space, I have no idea where I would think to begin combating ableism.  My first inclination is to look at the educational environment at an early age- the time during which young individuals are learning and developing their attitudes.

But as we discussed, inclusive education isn't always "inclusive" for everyone, and some people prefer to be in different spaces at certain times.  But this approach to education seems to be taught heavily in this program.  Unfortunately, I haven't really been taught about anything other than our current system, or this inclusive system.  So I guess I'm looking for something else if anyone can recommend something (maybe something I haven't read & should?).


Just saw this and wanted to share :)

Now, we only have to change "to-may-to" and "to-mah-to" to "disabled person" and "person with a disability" and we have a great little thought... or maybe give the tomato a physical disability?

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Hey all.. So I have a question more than a reflective post this week. This question formed from another project I'm working on (equal protection in k-12 public schools), but it definitely applies to what we've been discussing the past few weeks.

Instead of asking, was the ADA passed too early... I want to ask, should it have been passed at all? This stems from the same question I have regarding the EAHCA(EHA)/IDEA(IDEIA). Instead of creating acts that are supposed to assist with the equal treatment of those with disabilities, why isn't there simply a statement that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (allowing for equal protection of the laws) also applies to those with disabilities??

This stems from some pretty heavy research I'm doing around Brown v. Board and its progeny. We have this substantial and incredibly influential court case that applies the 14th Amendment to k-12 schools regarding black students. We had the PARC & Mills (Mills more than PARC, really) cases to the same effect for students with disabilities, but they only went to the district and circuit courts, not the Supreme Court. Instead of saying that the 14th Amendment applies to these students the way that Brown did, we created acts whose intentions are to create rights that produce equality for these students. Why do we need an act to do this at all? We have the 14th Amendment.

And the same goes for the ADA... why do we need an "Americans with Disabilities Act" that "prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities" (US Dept of Labor)?? Doesn't the 14th Amendment already do this:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Maybe we settled for these acts instead of pushing for the Government to recognize that all persons born or naturalized in the United States includes persons with disabilities, as well as blacks, Latinos, or women. (Yes, I know that this has not been realized yet.. but generally speaking a Constitutional violation gets much more attention than a regulation violation...). Instead of making a Constitutional argument, persons with disabilities are generally forced to exhaust all options with the IDEA, Rehab Act, or ADA before a claim can even be brought against an entity for these violations. Why? Why? ( I actually know the legal reasons why, but I don't believe those reasons are justified.)

Importance of Hiring an ADA Coordinator with a Disability

Hi all,

I'm pasting a Letter to the Editor that Nick Holzthum, Steve Kuusisto, and I composed to submit to the Daily Orange below. Please comment if you're interested in adding your name to the list of signers. Also, I'm of course interested in hearing any feedback you might have. Thanks!

"As a result of THE General Body’s activism last fall, particularly the student occupation of Crouse-Hinds Hall, the University is currently in the midst of a search for an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator. The ADA Coordinator is responsible for ensuring compliance with the law and, perhaps more importantly, for ensuring that the appropriate structures and processes are in place to foster a climate of inclusivity for students, staff, and faculty with diverse abilities on campus. The final three candidates have now been announced, and we want to insist on the importance and significance of hiring a candidate who identifies as disabled. 

We are not making an essentialist claim that because someone has a disability he or she is necessarily more qualified than a non-disabled candidate. However, hiring a disabled ADA coordinator would undoubtedly make a powerful and influential statement about the University’s commitment to combatting the structural oppression of individuals with disabilities. The unemployment rate of highly qualified, readily employable people with disabilities is 60-90 percent. Thus, there are indisputably people with disabilities who are qualified to fill the position of ADA coordinator. We feel the University has a responsibility to seek out those candidates and to make it clear to qualified people with disabilities that SU is invested in fighting ableism not just with words but through action.

Furthermore, we believe a disabled ADA coordinator would be more inclined to connect with  students, faculty, and staff who  have disabilities.  We strongly believe  an ADA Coordinator with a disability will prove better suited to find culturally appropriate and informed solutions to obstacles faced by disabled members of the Syracuse University community than a candidate who has not personally experienced disability-based discrimination."

Ableism and school

    I think it is necessary to add the ableism into our education. As we know, people with disability have lots of rights from the ADA. However lots of the people do not know too much about the ADA, they only know what ADA is used for, they do not understand what is exactly in the ADA. Those people may infringement of these right, but they do not even know. Government may ask students take the course about the ADA as a elective course. I think it is necessary to let everyone at least know something about the ADA.
    I think the government can ask the middle school or high school to add the ADA course. The earlier students can understand how ADA can help those people with disability, the easier they will remember and put into practice. Lots of people in college want to help those people with disability but they do not know how to do that, because they do not have the knowledge about the ADA. If  the government  can ask the high school student to learn about the ableism and the ADA, student will understand what is good for the people with disability and what is not able to do. However I think lots of time people do not give the people with disability the advantage is a unmeant thing. They do not really want to hurt the people with disability, they just do not realize that they trouble to others. I remember I walk into to the Life Science building one day, and there is a salt bucket used to melt the snow beside the door. There is a button above the bucket which is use to open the door for the people with disability. Because the bucket, people with disability or using the wheelchair is not able to touch the button, so how can they get into the building. I cannot say the staff who is using the salt want to stop those people with disability get into the building, I think he just does not realize that he do something wrong and give somebody in trouble. Therefore, I think learning ADA in school is one important way, and raising awareness about this thing is another very important way to help with those people with disability.

The education and disability rights. Orange ability.

I believe that teaching people about assuring equal rights for disability people, and making people know more about disabilities’ history as public history is really an urgent task in nowadays education system. We have ADA, however, it is not really working well and widely noticed in public. Most necessary reason might be that people don’t spontaneously pay attention on it. Changing is a different thing, and it becomes harder when it comes from human nature. Therefore, education can be an efficient way to change people's attitude and awareness about the disabilities’ identity and rights. Education will be a good way to lead the process to a correct direction, it also helps to decrease the potential ableism in working, living and other areas. 

How to use the proper language to communicate with people with disability is a serious issue for education. It involves the psychological problems. Wrong words is a hard knife to hurt people so much. How to foster people to respect people with disability is not only a task for social environment, but also for the education. 

I have heard a story about a young girl who needs to use wheelchair. “ I hope society can make the life of the people with disability much easier. I know what a difficult life looks like, I was in a orphanage until ten years old, because of my disability, I cannot go to school.” But actually, education changes her a lot. “ My disability only is the very small part of my life, I want be a diplomatist, I want to travel around world, I want to experience various things and see the whole world. I don’t need people’s pity, because I don’t think it is a pity, also I don’t want to ‘courage’ others, ‘courage’ might be the most familiar word for people with disability, from you guys’ perspective it might be a pretty positive word, however, as for me, this word makes me feeling you are looking me from a high position. I am not living in a perfect life as a people with disability, I already have a perfect life, that’s it! This morning, I received the admission from London School Of Economics, please wait me for a second, I want to touch up my lip stick before I take a picture."

About the orange ability event on this Saturday, I saw some facilities for people with disability to play sports, people without disability there are willing to join the group to experiete the facilities and play game with everyone. That is a wonderful event for me, I have chance to see people’s feeling and how it works, that is really valuable experience for me, not only as a design student. So much positive design in this event. That’s amazing and happy to see people’s big smile faces.​

My opinion on how to educate children about the disability rights movement

Like any solid enduring structural concept the history of the disability rights movement as a civil rights movement must be built from the ground up. As we discussed in class by the time children reach middle school and high schooL it is  generally too late to significantly alter the lens with which they view events around them. This is because they already have a preconceived notion of historical and sociological ingrained in their mind from a relatively early age. Therefore, the only way to similarly ingrain the struggles of the disability rights movement into their minds is to start teaching them about the disability rights movement and some of its leaders in the same way that similar civil rights movement such as the racial one with leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and the women's civil rights movement with leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, and Margaret Sanger. In the same vein we need to emphasize the contributions of people like Ed Roberts and Judy Huemann made in the disability rights movement.
            In order for it to have maximum effect these narratives must be emphasized from the time that the children are in elementary school. As was pointed out in class, if you would disabilities were simply brought into the classroom to tell their stories without any underlying context the message would be misconceived as disability as an individual rather than a social problem. This would delegitimize the disability rights movement as a true civil rights movement and complete social acceptance of the concept of discrimination against people with disabilities will never be realized. All we need to do is look at how ignorant people remain on gender and racial equality even to this day despite two constitutional amendments which are almost a century old or more, and the fact that legislation which acknowledges and bans such discrimination is over 50 years old.
            Given that timeline we need to start educating children about the disability rights movement now, in order to have a significant impact on society's views in about 30 or 40 years regarding people with disabilities.

Schools and Ableism

“I did not know what I did not know until I knew that I did not know it.” 


I’d never heard of Ed Roberts until I took this class, and I didn’t know anything about him until I looked him up last week.  I didn’t know about the history of disability, or that the ADA was really supposed to be a civil rights bill.  And so I didn’t share that with my students, or speak up at the Board of Education, or live my life with a real awareness of a certain kind of injustice.

You have to understand what ableism is to start working against being ableist.  And I think this is why we’re making so little progress against disability discrimination in our schools.  Too many people don’t know.  They’re not aware of the injustice; they don’t cringe at the slights because they don’t hear them, and they don’t feel compelled to speak up against the blatant wrongs because they don’t see them.  They don’t understand people with disabilities as an oppressed group and they’re not aware of how discrimination has, and continues, to play out.  As Katherine Ott said in her interview with David Serlin,  “People accept the historical narratives of other groups much more easily than they do with disability groups because the narratives of ethnic history or women’s history or gay history are to some degree more familiar to the general public.  (203)

There are many reasons why those narratives are more recognized - advocacy, group identity, gradual dulling of stigma; the question is how to make this narrative better known. Clearly, people need to be educated but, ironically, that can be pretty tricky in schools.  As we discussed in class, you need the time, you need to value the subject, you need to find a way to integrate the information, you might need money or permission (or at least the possibility of being ignored). But most importantly, you need to know that you need to teach it.  I think the idea of public history is incredibly helpful here.  Ott said, “audience is critical.  It’s the first thing that I think about when I’m doing research:  who is this ultimately for? (199)

Obviously, teaching a kindergartener to think about what people can do, not what they can’t do, is different than demanding that the fiscally conservative board member who sees the ADA as an unfunded mandate make sure that the school and curriculum are accessible.  Supporting parents of children with disabilities and making sure they know their rights, is different from working with a general ed teacher who doesn’t believe she should be required to teach children who don’t access curriculum in all the “normal” ways. 

It seems to me that attacking the issue on multiple levels is essential.  Disability history has to be part of the study of Civil Rights, schools must be adequately funded and held accountable so that they’re truly accessible, students and parents need to know their rights and be assured of timely remedies, and we must end segregation unless it is demonstrably in the best interest of the child.  All of these are very long-term goals that will be subject to the same political fickleness as other educational policies.

What would make the biggest difference, most immediately, is to make sure that teachers understand the issues, that teachers are not trained with ableist methods and attitudes, that in fact we truly believe that all children deserve free and appropriate (for them) public educations. At the end of the day, whatever the policies are, or the latest educational fad, it is what happens in that classroom between students and teachers, the manifestation of teachers’ skills and attitudes, that really makes education what it is. 

They can’t know what they don’t know.  We have to help them know it.

How is disability taught in schools?

In the class conversation on Thursday, we mentioned some of the ways in which disability and disability rights are taught in school.  While disability is no doubt a small part or not part at all of many school curriculums, students around the country are still receiving an education on disability in the following ways.

1.  Segregation of students with disabilities.  Although we have come a long way in integrating students with disabilities into “regular” education classrooms, I think it would be difficult to deny that segregation still exists.  In recognizing that segregation exists, Congress has even included certain clauses, such as “least restrictive environment,” in laws in an attempt to require schools not to segregate students with disabilities who do not need to be segregated.  However, while our society has come a long way in reducing segregation, segregation still exists in schools.  The school begins its segregation when picking children up for school.  As we discussed in class, children with disabilities, especially those with physical disabilities, are often segregated from other children and forced to take the “short bus” or, where I come from, the “van” to school while children without disabilities are picked up by the average sized school bus.  A child with a disability in riding on the only accessible transportation is either isolated completely by himself or herself in the van on the way to school or has only one or two other students with disabilities who are also forced to ride this accessible transportation provided by the school district.  As a result, children without disabilities who ride the regular sized bus do not encounter the segregated individuals with disabilities in one of the most social aspects of the school experience, the ride to school.  Students with disabilities are once again segregated once they arrive at school, often being diverted from “normal” education classrooms and put into resource rooms, where only students with disabilities are educated.  Students with disabilities in these classrooms often receive their entire education in these rooms, being excluded from “specials” such as physical education or art either because the school does not have the adaptive equipment to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in these programs or because the school decided that individuals with disabilities would benefit more from spending time on other subjects.  Often times, students with disabilities do not even leave the resource rooms to have lunch.  Therefore, throughout the school day, individuals with disabilities are segregated from students without disabilities.

2.  Burden on the individual.  Another aspect that we discussed in class is how school districts view their legal obligation to provide an accessible education as an option rather than an obligation, often leaving the burden on the individual student with a disability.  For example, school districts tend to recognize that a particular technology would be useful for an individual with a disability and allow the individual to better learn the educational material, but the school district will refuse to provide the technology, allowing the technology only to be used if it is provided by the student or his/her parents.

3.  Struggle between the individual and the collective.  Schools seem to adopt an individual perspective when it is convenient and a collective perspective when it is convenient for the school.  When it is convenient for the school to focus on the person with the disability as an individual, for example when it would come to making structural changes, the school sees the person as an individual who would need an accommodation by providing only a temporary accommodation for that one student instead of a permanent structural change.  When school districts think it is more convenient to view a person with a disability as a part of a collective group of people, for example when it comes to providing particular technology that an individual may need, the school responds in the collective, often comparing the needs of one student with a disability to the needs of another student with a disability and assuming the needs must be the same.

While these examples may not be ways in which disability is explicitly incorporated into a school’s curriculum, they are providing children with disabilities and children without disabilities an education on disability.  The message being sent is that individuals with disabilities don’t matter, individuals with disabilities “aren’t like us,” individuals with disabilities don’t deserve the same education as children without disabilities, individuals with disabilities are not capable, and individuals with disabilities can have their rights ignored.  Schools must recognize that they provide an education for children in every action the school takes and must act accordingly.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Judicial interpretation affecting the narrowing of ADA

The greatest reason why the ADA has been heavily narrowed by the judicial interpretation of many courts and viewed negatively by the media and therefore the rest of society goes back to the way it was passed as a stealth movement without a broad social mandate demanding it.  All the compromises that were made in order to get the bill through both houses of Congress and an incredibly conservative president served to make the statute more vague, and thus opened it to judicial interpretation by federal judges.  As many of you know most federal judges are appointed to serve for life, or at least long, as they want.  This combined with the recent trend toward judicial textualism led by Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia.  This interpretive approach only takes in consideration what the letter of the law says, while denying to acknowledge the purpose or intent of Congress when drawing up the law.  Therefore, there is often a failure to recognize the context of heavy discrimination towards people with disabilities.  Without understanding the context from which the ADA arose and without a social mandate to remove discrimination against people with disabilities, it can become difficult to justify laws which create an affirmative duty on the part of employers to both not discriminate against them, and make accommodations for people who need them to work, especially if it is outside the common industry practice of the business.
            Also, because judges are allowed to serve so long that it is not uncommon for their ideas of how the world operates to be behind the times and the current status of social opinion.  In addition, because judges tend to be older, they tend to have outdated views of relatively new concepts such as the social construction of disability.  It is probably the reason why courts overwhelmingly for the defendant in ADA cases as they rely on the medical model of disability in making their judicial interpretations, which affect the status of law.

Discussion after the class

    We talked about the unreasonable of the commodity price in class. We believe it is unreasonable is because we know really understand why the price of the product is so high and we think it is just a very simple product. I try to understand this problem by different ways and find out the reason. As a consumer, we usually compare one product with other similar products and believe their price also should be similar. If one of their prices is too high we will think it is unreasonable, if one of the prices is lower than others', then we think it is a substantial product.

    However I try to think why the manufacturer make their simple product such a high price, they should know that if the price is too high, the consumers will buy other similar products and this will help their competitors. I believe one of the reason is the cost, we all know the most important thing to reduce the price is reduce the cost of the product. Consumers usually think about how much will cost to produce this product and compare the price of the product and the price of the materials. However, I realize that as a consumer, we need to add the additional cost of the product which is the cost for those people to design, to advertise and to maintain. Manufacturers will not lose the money form these places, so they will try to increase the unit price of the products and make money. Sometimes a very simple thing include some pretty subtle designs, that also makes the price higher than others'. Of course, as a design we need to consider about the consumers, not just the products, we should use the simple and effective way to help our clients.

    When we are discuss about the commit suicide, we try to analyze it in legislation and morality. In my country, the law does not say the commit suicide is illegal, but I know some countries in Europe do.  When we talk about one person takes his own life, I think there is some deviation of his personal and cultural value. Because the "one child police" in my country, the commit suicide is a very irresponsible action for their parents. Those elders will lost their only child because the commit suicide. What if they become very old and they cannot do anything by themselves. So in moral practice, commit suicide is a very wicked behavior.

Connect the Dots

Since class, thinking about Krieger and our discussion, I’ve been trying to connect the dots - put together all that information in a way that explains why the ADA fell so short of being an effective civil rights law.

 I used to give my students idea organizers to help them sort out a concept.  This is a little more complicated than what my 5th graders did, but I thought it might help.  Information is in no particular order.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thoughts about the class' discussion and ADA.

About the high cost of the product for people with disability, as a designer, I have to say, cost issue is involved in many circumstances. The price of the product is determined by the type of client, market positioning, material using and the expenditures during the design process. People like to use environmental-friendly material to manufacture the product, and it makes the price fluctuate. The products for people with disability can be called service products in nowadays society, from my perspective, the products design for service should have a reasonable price. However, the price is not always acceptable. 

As for a workplace which company claimed to be friendly to everyone who has passion for the work, it might not be as warm as claimed. This potential ableism issue is not merely about if companies provide work opportunities, people also encounters such issue when the environment is not accessible for people with disability. As we said before, this is a social problem and we have a struggle time to fight with that. Communities and companies should show their sincerity, not only by publishing some documents which embody the concerns for people with disability. People always talk about the financial problem they encountered when they need to make some change, that is not the way to solve the problem, it just postpones the problem. 

Ableism is always a serious social problem, ADA is legislated from people with disabilities’ perspective to increase people with disabilities’ social position and attract more public attention about the ableism in nowadays. Before the ADA, even there was a law to maintain people with disabilities’ equal rights, but at that time this kind of law only effected public sector, but ADA broke the ice, it also works in private business. ADA stipulates companies and communities to modify their environment to make it more accessible, such as building the channel for wheelchairs, equipping the professional facilities for people with disability. Adjust the different work position for people with disability if in need. ADA also stipulates communities not to treat differently from people without disability, such as salary, promotion and dismissal. According to the ADA, people with disability can maintain their right much better. However, in some cases, ADA not really work very well.

There is still huge numbers’ employer thought the people with disability cannot work really well as people without disability. There are also some communities that are not willing to make a change for them. As we said before, the ableism is legislated but it doesn’t mean that it is practically solved. Making more and more people know about ADA, at same time, changing public’s traditional thought and attitude is also very important. 

Why do many reject the "one of many" idea?

One of the issues that was brought up in class is that members of society without disabilities after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act still refused to acknowledge that individuals with disabilities are just “one of many” people with disabilities throughout society.  People with disabilities can be seen as a group or class of people that deserve to be protected by civil rights legislation.  I attempted to think of a reason that society would have trouble seeing a person with a disability as a person within a larger group of people.  The first idea that I can up with is perhaps individuals without disabilities are struggling to identify a person with a disability as having both an individual and a collective identity.

One the one hand, we want people to see individuals with disabilities as individuals.  We hope that society recognizes every person as unique with unique needs, unique desires, and unique approaches to situations.  We try to educate society to think of an individual with a disability as a person and to recognize that person as in individual in the same way that a person without a disability would be recognized. 

However, people with disabilities also wish at times to be seen as a class or as a group of people.  For example, when it comes to making buildings accessible, people with a disability wish that the person making the renovation for the building to be accessible would make the building accessible to the entire group of people with disabilities, rather than only the person who had trouble entering the building and requested the renovation.  An individual with a disability who goes through the hassle of convincing a public accommodation to provide the person with an accommodation would hope that the accommodation would become permanent so that all people with disabilities would be able to access the service in the future without having to go through the hassle.  If the people providing the accommodation see the person with the disability as a single unique person, they may think they only have to accommodate that one person and worry about another person who would need the accommodation if, and when, the situation arises.

I can understand how it can be difficult for people without disabilities to understand how the disability rights community could want it both ways.  How could individuals with disabilities want to be seen as an individual but still as part of a group?  I can recognize how people can grapple with these seemingly opposite desires, but I also see that people do this all the time throughout society.  While a woman may want to be recognized as a unique individual, she may also identify with women as a group and fight for women’s rights accordingly.  Therefore, I cannot attribute the rejection of the “one of many” idea to the struggle between the individual and the collective identity.

Another reason that I think people without disabilities might reject recognizing people with disabilities as “one of many” is because people without disabilities do not encounter disability often enough to understand it and/or people without disabilities choose to reject the concept of a people with disabilities as a class of people.  Because so many people throughout society have disabilities, I think that people who do not understand disability because they do not take the time to try to understand it.  I recognize that people with disabilities are often segregated from people without disabilities in education, housing, and many other aspects of life.  However, while people without disabilities might claim that they do not often encounter people with disabilities, I think the people without disabilities are either only considering a certain types of disabilities, such as visible disabilities, to be disabilities or are ignoring disability all together.  This lack of knowledge on disability might be a reason that people without disabilities refuse to see people with disabilities as a class of people, especially a class of people that deserve civil rights protections. 

Either way, there is one if not many barriers that need to be overcome before people without disabilities begin to see people with disabilities as not only individuals but also a group of people who both individually and collectively deserve civil rights.